The Rainbow Hub
|Coming Home is
a recently revised edition of Lois Cloarec Harts
2001 novel, which offers a poignant twist on the love
triangle theme so prevalent in the romance genre.
Having never read a novel by Hart, a British Columbia
native, I had no idea the journey in store for me
when I first dived into the pages of this deeply layered
story of three incredible people swept up in a heart
wrenching tale of friendship, love, and loss.
The book begins by introducing us to Mrs. Jan Spencer
and her beloved but ailing husband Rob a former
fighter pilot for the Canadian Air Force who is now
fighting a valiant battle against Multiple Sclerosis.
Despite his disability, Robs charisma and powerful
optimism are potent reminders that life does not end
where the loss of mobility begins. Overflowing with
an amazing sense of humor and wild stories of his
adventurous youth, Rob quickly captures the hearts
of all who encounter him. However, the only opinion
that truly matters to him is that of his wife Jan.
An avid reader and former militant herself, Jan loves
little more than her sweet husband and prides in giving
him the care she knows he deserves.
When a near-disastrous tumble is remedied by the timely
help of local post-woman Terry Sanderson, the course
of Jan and Robs routine existence is irrevocably
altered as they embrace a friendship with the young
post-graduate whom Rob dubs his knight in shining
armor. What starts as a simple bond between
the three of them soon grows into something far more
as feelings slowly begin to develop between Jan and
Terry, leaving the would be lovers anguished and confused
as they both struggle not to betray the love and loyalty
of the man they both hold so dear. Having been written
by a woman going through nearly the same situation,
the love these characters feel for one another is
as is the inevitable heartache they
each face when the integrity of their friendship becomes
ever harder to maintain.
Coming Home is a marvelously authentic portrayal
of the joy and hardships attached to finding new love,
as well as an excellent exploration of what it means
to care for someone with a life-threatening disease.
What I loved most about this book was the respect
and loyalty Rob is shown, even as his wife begins
to experience a strange new attraction for their mutual
friend. Furthermore, every character the reader comes
across (even minor ones) are remarkably realistic
and multi-faceted. We laugh with them, cry with them,
and above all come to feel as if these are all real
people living real lives, with us merely serving as
spectators of their day-to-day existence. Moreover,
Hart manages to eloquently stress themes of acceptance
and compassion without relying on generic notions
of didacticism or losing any of the storys honesty.
The approach different individuals take to their queer
loved ones is a genuine glimpse into the various dynamics
so often at play in the real world. That alone would
make this book a worthwhile read for a person of any
orientation, even without its relatable characters
and beautifully inspirational narrative.
|Lesbian Reading Room
|Terry has recently finished her MA and
taken a job as a postal worker. The pay is good, she
enjoys the exercise, and more than anything it gives
her time to think, time to plan and write her first
While walking her round one day she steps in as a
knight in shining armor to help a couple on her route.
Rob, an ex fighter pilot struck down by degenerative
MS, is helpless on the floor and Jan, his devoted
wife, is unable to lift him on her own.
The chance encounter leads to a rapidly developing
friendship between the three. Rob is the life and
soul of the party; Jan book is a book addict who has
literally given up her dreams to support Rob. Terry,
her family, and her housemates, soon form a welcome
addition to Jan and Robs small social circle.
Everything is great for a while but
fate does not intend to leave these three without
a twist and as time goes on they will find themselves
in an impossible position. As always in an emotional
triangle the challenge will be how to meet everybodys
needs without destroying the very fabric of their
This is the first book I have read by this author
and it certainly wont be the last. While many
of the threads to this tale are familiar, it is delivered
with an unusual twist. The story is handled with great
sympathy for all the characters involved and the impact
of Robs disability gives us an interesting insight
into the impact a degenerative disease can have on
The characters are exceedingly well drawn and extremely
likeable. The family dynamics make a nice counterpoint
to the relationships Terry has with her flat-mates
and friends. And the three main characters are ably
supported by a wide ranging cast.
Throughout the book we get to know a great deal about
the three main players as their back-history is gradually
filled in. However I found the lack of introductions
slightly disconcerting. The author introduces new
characters directly into the plot without giving us
any context and then, over time, fills in who they
are. Once the new characters had been integrated into
the story I found myself becoming increasingly fond
of them. But I did find myself, on several occasions,
wondering quite who the new people were until we were
given some context.
Despite the slightly dark subject matter the story
is filled with humour and warmth. These are not easy
subjects to write about. Both MS and emotional triangles
are painful and can be heavy to handle. But despite
the looming loss and crisis Ms Hart has us laughing
at the interplay of characters, at the antics of her
heroine, and admiring the stoic cheerfulness and upbeat
good humor of the tragic hero.
I enjoyed the plot, I enjoyed the complexity of the
relationships that developed, I thought the triangle
was well handled, and that the book was well written.
The growing relationship between Terry and Jan is
delicately handled and sweet to watch Ms Hart
is certainly an author I will be happy to read again.
Midwest Book Review, Sept 2002
Almost 25 years old and just finished with her
Masters in English, Terry has taken a job with Canada
Post delivering the mail. A job that she hopes will
give her the time to think about and write her first
novel. One day on her route, Terry is asked to help
a woman lift her quadriplegic husband who has fallen.
Terry is quite taken by Rob and Jan, and their respective
attitudes toward dealing with Rob's advanced MS.
When Terry sees Jan at a local park a few days later,
she strikes up a conversation with her. This is
the beginning of a special friendship between Terry
and Jan as well as Rob. For some 15 years, Terry
learns, Jan has been taking care of Rob as his health
increasingly declines. Jan's escape and comfort,
during these years as a caregiver, are her books.
She has a voracious appetite for reading a range
of fiction genres. A mutual love of books becomes
an important common ground for the two women.
Once an athletic hotshot pilot for the Canadian
Air Force, Rob continues to maintain a deceptively
lively attitude. A charming extrovert he enjoys
the opportunities to socialize with Terry and her
family. Rob's point of view is rarely known, although
his personal history and tales of his exploits are
often provided. This creates an interesting impression
of Rob that reflects some of his distancing with
Intelligent, kind and generous, Terry can also have
a quick temper that sometimes prompts her to speak
without thinking. She is perhaps the most rounded
character in a well depicted cast. Her point of
view is prominent and her interactions with her
two roommates and extensive family are followed
over the course of almost a year. During that time,
Terry comes to realize that her feelings for Jan
are not entirely platonic. Meanwhile, Jan begins
to acknowledge feelings that she's long ignored
regarding her own orientation. Honorable, neither
woman will betray their obligations or Rob's trust.
There's a popular saying that experience is what
you get when you don't get what you want. Suffice
it to say that Terry gets a great deal of experience
over the course of "Coming Home" Ordinarily,
titles that deal with such a "lovers' triangle"
do not appeal to this reader because of the amount
of angst involved. Unsurprisingly, "Coming
Home" has a great deal of that angst. However,
it is also a very touching and well-told story.
Hart has populated "Coming Home" with
realistic, interesting characters and she provides
a loving tribute to persons like Rob who struggle
against diseases like MS and the caregivers that
give them love, care and a dignified life. Furthermore
there are some charming insights to living in Calgary,
particularly its lesbian community. If you're in
the mood for a good tear jerker, "Coming Home"
is worth your while.
|Blayne Cooper, Author
of Cobb Island, Echoes From the Mist, The Last
Train Home, Unbreakable, Madam President, First Lady,
Castaway, and The Road to Glory
Based on the number of poorly written ones out there,
writing a good lovers' triangle is not an easy thing
to do. Too often in lesbian fiction authors make the
male component of the triangle the scapegoat, the
evil-doer keeping his wife or lover from true happiness
and her true sexual orientation because of his own
selfishness. Real life, however, is not always so
black and white. One of the things that makes "Coming
Home" so good, the emotion so real, is that the
cast is well-rounded and ultimately sympathetic. I
found myself rooting for all of them - and in a lovers
triangle everyone can't 'win.' The set up is an impressive
recipe for angst. Kudos to the author for not skimping
or taking the easy way out, for giving us likeable,
real characters, and for weaving a tale that's called
me back for late night reading sessions again and
Just About Write - March 2006
Isserman's reviews can also be read
at Amazon.com, libertas.com, and The Independent Gay
Coming Home by Lois Cloarec Hart will lift
you up and break your heart at the same time. It
will make you laugh and cry in the same breath.
It is a story that will inspire those that read
The author declares in her acknowledgements that
Coming Home is a fictional account of the
author's life with her husband who was a quadriplegic
suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. Rob and Jan Spencer
manage his disability until one day they seek out
the assistance of their mail carrier, Terry Sanderson,
when Rob falls from his wheelchair. From this simple
meeting, the three form a bond that carries them
through a very emotional and difficult time in all
of their lives.
As the story progresses, Jan and Terry fall in love,
but their love for Rob keeps them from acting on
or even recognizing their feelings. Hart skillfully
reveals the ethical dilemma and the hard choices
that each character must make. Rob is Jan's best
friend, and she is not only his wife but his caregiver.
Rob can see how Terry and Jan come alive when they
are together even though they do not admit their
true feelings. Still, he cannot let go of Jan because
she is his lifeline. Terry has fallen for her best
friend, but loves Rob too and will not hurt either
of them. It seems to be a no-win situation for all
This is where Hart shines as a storyteller. Rather
than writing a novel that is filled only with sadness,
she balances it with the lightness of humor. The
novel focuses on the deep friendships and the unselfishness
of each character. The author redefines the meaning
of family as the entire Sanderson and Spencer families
rally around each other.
Hart's telling of Coming Home reaches deep
into our core and takes hold of our hearts. We are
drawn into the characters' lives through their extraordinary
struggles. We laugh, get angry, and shed tears along
with Rob, Jan, and Terry, and we are moved by how
they handle the cruelty of the situation with courage.
It is life that we experience when reading Coming
Home, and everything that it throws at us. Hart
has truly given us a novel that defines the human
spirit at its best.